How strong is your network outside of your organization?

This is the question that forms the foundation of the Think IT Association. The peer professional development network, founded by York Solutions, offers nationwide IT leaders the opportunity to collaborate, connect, and learn together.

More than 3,500 Think IT members meet regularly in groups to discuss challenges, ask questions, and share their diverse skills and experiences. Think IT is an invaluable network for leading IT professionals who want to strengthen their relationships and expand their expertise.

We spoke with one of our members, Jeremy Niecikowski, about challenges and opportunities in IT, and how Think IT has influenced his career. Jeremy is Director of IT Security and Systems Engineering at Peapod, an online grocery service available in multiple U.S. cities.

Where did you start your career? What experiences led you to the industry?

I started my professional career working in IT as a PC Support Technician at Arthur J. Gallagher – while working on my undergrad degree in Computer Science. I came into the industry during the dot-com boom, and I was fascinated by the opportunities the Internet would provide to the average everyday person, as well as how it began to transform how businesses reached their consumers.

What do you think are the greatest challenges facing IT leaders/CIOs as a profession right now?

I think the greatest challenge facing IT leaders and CIOs now is the need to drive continuous innovation. It’s not good enough to just innovate once. CIOs need to continue to drive their people and businesses forward.

How can IT leaders get business partners to think differently about the importance of IT?

IT is not just about keeping the lights on and providing technical support to employees. IT leaders need to demonstrate the business value of IT. They need to show the positive impact that they deliver to the business.

What tips can you share to develop the next generation of IT leaders?

Be flexible, be empathetic, and provide opportunities for people to take risks and experiment. Don’t manage tasks; empower people to make decisions and grow with you.

Tell us a little bit about your specialties and passions within IT.

I’m very passionate about solving problems and helping mentor new leaders. From a technical standpoint, for the last several years, I’ve been mostly focused on helping scale companies and leading change by leveraging automation and service integration.

What’s been your favorite project you’ve worked on over the years?

I’ve been very fortunate in my career to work with many talented people at more than a few of the top tech companies in Chicago. I’ve helped all of these companies scale their business. I’ve learned a lot at each company and have grown professionally from each experience.

One of the most fulfilling projects I worked on was moving GrubHub’s website to a new data center with no impact to customers. The planning and execution of the project was absolutely amazing, and knowing we pulled it off and continued to process orders for our customers was such a cool experience.

What about your position in the industry gets you really excited?

I’m excited now to be able to focus on IT security. I’m helping transform a small team of engineers to leverage automation capabilities and integrate security into the build process.

Tell us about your personal brand.

I thrive on building and cultivating technical teams through empathy and personal connections.

What has been your most valuable experience as a Think IT member thus far?

My most valuable experience as a Think IT member so far is having an opportunity to partner with and mentor young technology professionals from Genesys Works.

What do you do to unwind from a hectic day?

After a stressful day, I often find myself taking some time by myself. Or I connect with some of the folks who are still around the office to reflect on what we can improve upon or what opportunities have presented themselves throughout the day. I also enjoy taking a long walk home and cooking to unwind.

Learn more about the benefits of joining the Think IT Association.